Fights, assaults and botched escape attempts have raised concerns about safety at Multnomah County's two jails. Multnomah County sheriff's corrections deputies are being attacked in numbers officials say are highly unusual. In the first two weeks of January, there were eight assaults on staff, according to a union spokesman. Several deputies have sought medical treatment because of the incidents.
In the most recent attack, on Jan. 13, 41-year-old John Christopher Marsh grabbed another inmate and threatened to "snap his neck" in a failed escape attempt. Several corrections deputies struggled to get Marsh into handcuffs. Marsh and two deputies had to be treated for injuries at the hospital. One deputy suffered broken ribs from the clash and another dislocated a finger.
The sheriff's office says it is aware of a recent spate of assaults in the jails. A sheriff's spokesman says the agency can't confirm the number of staff assaults this year because they are still being investigated.
The Multnomah County grand jury that annually reviews the jails identified fatigue and excessive overtime as major factors contributing to safety shortcomings in November.
"Safety is a major concern due to the perception of staff fatigue," the report says. "The common theme with everyone we talked to was that overtime, both voluntary and mandatory, is through the roof and safety issues are a direct result."